The drama continues in Madison as Governor Walker and the GOP majorities try to find a means of moving forward without conceding to protestors. Absent a quorum, the Senate cannot vote on a budget-repair bill that would significantly limit the collective bargaining for public sector union members and force higher contributions for pensions and health care. The unions claim to be willing to accept the higher contributions; the sticking points are changes in the institutional framework for future collective bargaining, forcing the unions to submit to annual recertification, and threatening the automatic flow of resources from state paychecks to union coffers.
The strategic question for Republicans: how to draw Democratic state senators from palatial Rockford, Illinois, to create a quorum. The cheese in the trap: voter ID. As reported in today’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
In a move meant to lure boycotting opposition senators back to Wisconsin, the Republican leader of the state Senate threatened Monday to force a vote soon on a bill that is abhorred by Democrats: requiring people to show an ID at the polls.
Although the voter ID bill as currently written would require a quorum of 20 because it would use public funds to provide IDs to poor citizens without state-issued driver’s licenses, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald seems willing to strip these provisions to facilitate passage.
The stakes for Democrats are quite high. According to the Journal-Sentinel, some 26 percent of Wisconsin voters are from union households, and in the last gubernatorial election, the Democratic candidate Tom Barrett won 63 percent of this vote. Poor voters—those without driver’s licenses—constitute another relatively secure voting block for Democratic legislators. If the voter ID strategy is implemented, Democrats may have to address a difficult question: which constituency to sacrifice?